Life Advice


Health & Spirit

Sister-in-law publicly shames breast cancer survivor for not wearing prostheses

Carolyn Hax on

Should you feel any flickers of guilt, please douse them quickly by reminding yourself that you didn't fight for your survival just to listen to her abuse. Or anyone's.

Maybe there's a decent person under her shockingly awful, boundary-oblivious surface; maybe she harbors a deep terror of illness and mortality, and her way of dealing with it is to vilify anyone she sees as their earthly messengers.

But that's not only as charitable as I'm willing to get -- it also, even if true, would be no excuse for her to indulge her mortality fears at your or anyone else's expense.

My flight of fancy is that, if she ever gives you another opportunity, you'll tell her -- in front of the family, as she would -- where she can shove the prostheses. Even better, calmly ask her to leave your house. Both are ways to handle this to which you are fully entitled.

If such defiance is too much to ask of your nature -- and I suspect it is, given your willingness even to consider appeasing Scylla the Sister-in-Law -- then please at least rest assured there's no reason or occasion, zero, for you not to rock your finest, flattest, utterly beautiful self.

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